HAN Blog

Ambassadors Highlight Experiences on the Frontlines

Everyone has a role to play in speaking out for better hospice and palliative care policies. But for many providers, participating in legislative advocacy can be intimidating. How do you get started? Who has the time? Can you really make a difference? At this year’s NHPCO IDC Virtual Conference, three MyHospice Ambassadors discussed these issues, sharing their experiences and insights as frontline providers and frontline advocates.

Every year, NHPCO provides a virtual education conference dedicated to supporting members of interdisciplinary care teams. This year, the theme was opportunities and challenges on the front lines—a subject with significant ties to advocacy.

As a part of the conference, each day featured Peer to Peer Connections, which served as conversational panels where faculty and attendees interact over a given topic. In the Peer-to-Peer session “Care and Advocacy: Using Your Voice,” attendees were invited to virtually sit down with three MyHospice Ambassadors who serve on the frontlines both in care and in advocacy.

The MyHospice Ambassadors faculty were:

• Clay Hoberman, DO, a hospice and palliative physician with St. Croix Hospice in Omaha, Nebraska.

• Tartania Brown, MD, a palliative care physician with MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care Program in New York, New York.

• Kevin Tutunjian, administrator with In The Arms of Grace Hospice in Los Angeles, California.

Together, Clay, Tartania, and Kevin discussed how being a “boots on the ground” provider with stories to share puts each of them in a great position to meet with legislative offices and advocate for better hospice and palliative care policies. They also pointed out that, as providers, they are used to advocating for the value of hospice and palliative care within the larger healthcare system.

When asked if advocates need to be experts in politics and legislation, the ambassadors responded with a resounding “No.” They pointed out that simply having passion for a cause and being able to connect on a human level when meeting with others goes a long way.

And there’s nothing wrong with learning as you go when it comes to the innerworkings of policy. As Tartania pointed out, she learned after her first legislative meetings how valuable it is to meet with staff in a legislative office. At first, advocates might be disappointed if they are not able to meet directly with their Member of Congress. However, advocates will realize that staffers are immensely knowledgeable about issues, and trusted advisors for the legislators that they work for.

The ambassadors also acknowledged the value of the support that HAN provides to advocates in legislative meetings, especially during Hospice Action Week where advocates from across the country gather to hold meetings on the Hill.

Overall, the ambassadors emphasized the value of providers participating in advocacy, and that experience in providing care is experience enough to be an effective advocate.

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